AOL Releases Netscape Browser Update

The first upgrade in a year to the once-market-leading Web browser, Netscape 7.2 is built on the same code and Gecko rendering engine as Mozilla's latest browser suite.

America Online Inc. on Tuesday opened the curtain on its update to the Netscape Web browser.

Netscape 7.2 became available for download from the Netscape site. As previously reported, AOL had planned to unveil its first browser update in a year by the middle of this month.

The update counters speculation that AOL was stopping releases of new Netscape browser versions, following its decision in July 2003 to spin out the Mozilla open-source browser development group that it had created five years earlier.

Mozilla is now an independent foundation, but its development work served as the core of the Netscape update. Netscape 7.2 is built on the same code and Gecko rendering engine as Mozillas latest browser suite, Version 1.7.

AOL officials first confirmed in May that the company was working on a Netscape update, but they said little about whether the move was an effort to more aggressively revive the Netscape browser or to simply maintain it.

But in later interviews, officials indicated that the new version was a maintenance release, bringing it in line with the security fixes, performance improvements and new features included in Mozilla.

Among the new features are password manager improvements, improved junk-mail filters and support for vCards.

Netscape 7.2 is available for the Windows, Mac OS X and Linux operating systems.

Netscape in the late 1990s fought a pitched market battle with Microsoft Corp.s Internet Explorer. IE eventually became the dominant browser, now holding about a 95 percent market share.

AOL, of Dulles, Va., acquired the browser as part of its purchase of Netscape Communications Corp. in 1999.

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